“Pain is inevitable, misery is a choice.” – Christopher Reeve
A couple weeks ago I was using the navigation on my phone to get to an unfamiliar location. As I was approaching a well-known intersection, I heard Siri say, “In 300 feet turn left on Misery Street.” I had to laugh, really a street named after a state, Missouri, and Siri can’t get it right? Then I heard her say, “Stay on Misery Street for 3.5 miles.”
It made me think of all the times I’ve willingly chosen to stay on Misery Street way longer than 3.5 miles. How about you, have minor thoughts gnawed away at you until they escalated to a point where you felt miserable? How long are YOU going to stay on Misery Street?
What does misery look like anyway? How can you spot it in yourself and others to avoid having miserable tendencies?
Thinking the Worst
People who choose to be miserable view their circumstances in worst case scenarios. They major in misery because they focus solely on the negative and rarely view anything constructive or fortuitous. In other words, they live life through a negative lens.
Misery Loves Company
The familiar term “Misery loves company” is pretty spot on. Miserable people are attracted to each other like magnets. They are energy sucking vampires who feed off of each other’s “miserable” lot in life. In the workplace, their cynical, unhappy nature can adversely affect the morale, creativity, and energy of all those they come in contact with.
Miserable people are extremely critical of others. They are the first to point out the flaws of those around them and have no problem vocalizing those “flaws” to others. They can be recognized by the high drama they create. To make matters even worse, every frustration they experience is verbalized and expressed with no regards to seeking a solution to their situation.
Miserable people have an excuse for everything and lament the fact that nothing good ever happens to them. They continually call attention to petty matters which only magnifies its impact. They are chronic complainers who use victim language that is full of excuses.
What is a miserable mindset costing you?
The answer to that question is, “everything”. Having a miserable attitude is like having a cancerous tumor that will spread into every area of your life.
A miserable mindset drains you and everyone you touch. It depletes your energy, your aspirations, and dreams. This is the epitome of a defeatist mindset.
In addition to draining energy, having a miserable lens could make you miss golden opportunities which are right in front of you.
How can you overcome a miserable mindset?
1. The Power of Choice
Know that you have the power to define your own life. Misery, like optimism, is a choice. Once you recognize that you might be reacting in life more from a negative vantage point than a positive one, hit pause and choose how you want to respond.
“The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy. Learn how to use the power wisely.” – David Cuschieri
2. Leaving a Legacy
I’ve been to enough funerals to know that everyone leaves a legacy of some sorts; some lasting and impactful, others not so much.
Miserable people choose to view their circumstances as problems; optimistic people choose to view their problems as opportunities to win, to grow, to succeed and to impact others. You have to decide how you want to be remembered in life. When people think of you, do you want them to say,
- She was such an impactful person in my life, she found solutions to the obstacles she encountered.
- He lived his life full of confidence and energy; I’d like to be more like him.
- She was always complaining and miserable.
- He rarely saw the good in anything; poor guy he led a miserable life.
The choice is always yours.
3. Get Your Needs Met
We are all products of our past. As adults many times we are unaware of the influence that our past has on our present behavior. This is especially true of unmet needs. Research confirms that individuals oftentimes engage in negative compensating behavior to get their unmet needs met.
Unmet needs drive behavior; this includes the mindset of misery. Every human being has universal needs and when these needs are not met, they become frustrated, dissatisfied, anxious, and you guessed it…miserable.
Unmet needs have no boundaries; they present themselves personally and or professionally. According to Patrick Lenconi, Author of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, miserable jobs share collective traits.
Lenconi identifies the 3 signs of job misery as:
This boils down to identifying the unmet need and getting it met. If you are feeling insignificant, look for all the ways that you matter – what is significant about you? What skills and talents do you have that set you apart?
If you are feeling like your contributions are irrelevant, make a list of the things that you do that impact the lives of others
If you are feeling immeasurement, look for ways to start measuring your own success and don’t be reliant on the opinion of others. Record your own metrics.
When you feel fulfilled and engaged in whatever arena you are in, it will spill over into all aspects of your life. This is the power of being valued and affirmed in life.
All of us are guaranteed to face difficult times. Life will always throw hardships at us; it is during those difficult times that I like to gain wisdom from those who truly have faced adversity and did not give in to misery. Let’s see what they have to say to us.
“I don’t think of all the misery but of all the beauty that still remains.” – Anne Frank, Holocaust Victim
“If you can’t get a miracle, become one.” – Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limbs
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor
Digging Deeper: Developing a Resilient Mindset
All of us face challenges in life. Some people let their challenges define who they are and become victims of their circumstances. Others, those whom I call warriors, take 100% responsibility for their lives, own their choices good or bad, and live purposeful empowered lives.
- Embrace a warrior spirit
- Reframe challenges to opportunities
- Craft a resilient mindset